Learn about Life in the 1920s

Pres. Hoover Helps the Home-Builder

TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT EASIER for the average man or woman to obtain a home"—that, in the phrase of the New York World, is the object of the White House Conference on home-building and home ownership recently called by President Hoover.

Pointing out that this is the twenty-fourth commission appointed by the President, and the eleventh to operate with private funds, the Washington correspondents go on to explain that the organization will deal with the problems of home-planing, home-building and home-financing, but will recommend no legislation. Government officials and representatives of nineteen national organizations will comprise the membership.

Judging by the amount of editorial comment, the entire country is keenly interested in this new project of the President's.

"Particular attention is to be given to high charges attending second mortgages and to cost of homes in an effort to work out an easier financial situation, something akin perhaps to that behind the automobile industry," notes Carlisle Bargeron, of the Washington Post.

By this conference, as the President himself tells us, he hopes to "inspire better organization and remove influences which seriously limit the spread of home ownership, both town and country." Then he tells us more about his plan:

"The conference will be organized by a planning committee comprised of representatives of the leading national groups interested in this field, under the chairmanship of Secretary Lamont. This planning committee will in turn set up nation-wide subcommittees to determine the facts and to study the different phases of the question. ...

"One of the important questions is finance. The present depression has given emphasis to the fact that the credit system in home-building is not as soundly organized as other branches of credit. In order to enable the purchase of homes on what amounts to the instalment plan, it is necessary to place first and, often enough, second mortgages. Second mortgages, have, if we take into account commissions, discounts, and other charges, risen in rates in many cities to the equivalent of 20 or 25 per cent. per annum, all of which not only stifles home ownership, but has added to the present depression by increasing unemployment in the trades involved.

"The finance question, however, is only one of many. The expansion and betterment of homes in its bearing upon comfort, increasing standards of living, and economic and social stability, is of outstanding importance."

THE conference deserves the utmost support," declares the Chicago Journal of Commerce, and the Charleston Mail agrees that "the matter is one of national importance." The Cleveland Plain Dealer sums up:

"It is an economic question, but it is far more than that. It is a question of strengthening the social foundations of a State."

Source: The Literary Digest for August 23, 1930